Trustees Grant Emeritus Title to Eight Retirees

Eight retired Arkansas Tech University faculty members who gave a combined 180 years of service to the institution received professor emeritus status from the ATU Board of Trustees on Thursday, May 16.

Dr. Michael Benefield, Dr. Thomas DeBlack, Dr. Dennis Fleniken, Dr. Paula Pendergrass, Dr. David Roach, Dr. Patricia Roach, Dr. Elizabeth Salmeri and Dr. Rebecca Shopfner had the honorary title bestowed upon them during the May 2019 meeting of the board.

Requirements for professor emeritus status for faculty members who have retired from Arkansas Tech include 15 or more years of consecutive service and nomination by any member of the university community who holds faculty rank.

Authority to grant emeritus status rests with the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the president of the university.

Below are bios for Tech’s latest professor emeritus honorees as provided by the ATU Office of Academic Affairs:

Dr. Michael Benefield, Professor Emeritus of Finance
Benefield received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Purdue University in 1981; a Master of Science degree in 1984 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1980, both from Arkansas State University; a Master of Education degree from the University of North Carolina in 1976; and a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968. From 1988-95, Benefield served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He joined ATU in fall 1995 as an assistant professor. In fall 2000, he was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor. Benefield retired in May 2017.

Dr. Thomas DeBlack, Professor Emeritus of History
DeBlack received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1995, a Master of Science in Education degree from Ouachita Baptist University in 1979 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University in 1973. Prior to enrolling in his doctoral program, he served as a teacher, coach and principal with the Nashville School District in southwest Arkansas. In 1995, DeBlack joined ATU as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure in fall 2000. During the 2001-02 academic year, DeBlack served as interim department head for the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy. In 2002, he received the Faculty Award of Excellence in scholarship. DeBlack was promoted to professor in fall 2007 and he served as interim dean for the College of Arts and Humanities for fall 2009. DeBlack retired in May 2018.

Dr. Dennis Fleniken, Professor Emeritus of Education
Fleniken received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Louisiana State University in 1974. He earned his Master of Science degree in 1966 and his Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, both from Louisiana Tech University. He taught for seven years with Bossier Parish Schools and five years with Louisiana State University before coming to ATU in fall 1975 as an assistant professor and director of instructional service. He was granted tenure in fall 1978 and was promoted to associate professor in fall 1981. In October 1981, Fleniken was named dean of the School of Education, a position he held until 2003. He was promoted to professor in 1986. From July 2003 until his retirement in January 2007, he served as the first director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Paula Pendergrass, Professor Emeritus of Biology
Pendergrass received her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Washington State University in 1974. She earned her Master of Arts degree in 1970 and her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1968, both from Southwest Missouri State University. She came to ATU in fall 1992 as an associate professor, having previously served at various institutions since 1974. In 1994, she was promoted to professor and was named head of the Department of Biological Sciences, a position she held for four years. Pendergrass received tenure in fall 1997. She retired from the university in August 2007.

Dr. David Roach, Professor Emeritus of Management
Roach received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1991, his Master of Business Administration degree in 1983 and his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981, all from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He was hired at Arkansas Tech as an instructor in fall 1983 and was subsequently promoted to assistant professor (fall 1986), granted tenure (fall 1988) and promoted to associate professor (fall 1992). In 1997, Roach received the Faculty Award of Excellence in scholarship. He was promoted to professor in fall 1998 and served as a department head from 2000-03 in the College of Business. He retired from the university in May 2017.

Dr. Patricia Roach, Professor Emeritus of Education
Roach earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Missouri in 1981. She received her Master of Arts in Teaching credential in 1968 and her Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, both from Middle Tennessee State University. She taught at the University of Central Arkansas for two years, one year at Arkansas College and three years at Southern Arkansas University before joining ATU in fall 1988 as an associate professor. Roach was promoted to professor and granted tenure in fall 1993. She initially retired in May 2000, but returned to ATU as a visiting professor from fall 2001-May 2010.

Dr. Elizabeth Salmeri, Professor Emeritus of Education
Salmeri received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1985 and her Master of Education degree in 1981, both from the University of Wyoming. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from College Misericordia (now Misericordia University) in 1955. After seven years of teaching in various public schools, she taught at the University of Wyoming for three years prior to joining ATU in fall 1985 as an assistant professor. In 1988, she was selected as interim head for the Department of Secondary Education. She was named head of the department, promoted to associate professor and granted tenure in 1990. In 1991, Salmeri stepped down as department head. She was promoted to professor in fall 1995. She was named interim department head again for the 1998-99 and 1999-00 academic years. In December 2000, she retired. In January 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, Salmeri taught part-time in the Master of Education degree program.

Dr. Rebecca Shopfner, Professor Emeritus of Teaching, Learning and Leadership
Shopfner earned her Doctor of Education degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1999, her Master of Education degree from Arkansas Tech University in 1984 and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 1973. After teaching in the Fort Smith School District for 27 years, Shopfner joined the ATU faculty in spring 2000 as a visiting assistant professor. She was hired as a full-time assistant professor in fall 2001 and was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure in fall 2006. Shopfner retired in June 2017.

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